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Boris Johnson loyalist poll claims ex-PM ‘would bring back half of lost Tory votes’

The study comes just weeks after a Tory bustup over secretive polls, including the “Labour landslide” poll warning of Tory wipeout at the general election

Zoe Grunewald
Tuesday 20 February 2024 09:43 GMT
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Rishi Sunak has not ruled out bringing Boris Johnson back into the Conservative party

Boris Johnson loyalists claim he would win back half of all Tory voters lost under Rishi Sunak in the latest commissioned poll to try and disrupt the government.

The study, commissioned by long-standing party supporter and Johnson ally Lady McAlpine, found that just over half of those who voted Conservative in 2019 – but who now intend to vote for a different party – would vote for Mr Johnson again.

The survey of 13,534 Conservative voters also found that the former prime minister remains the most popular candidate to succeed Mr Sunak – beating ten senior Tories including Lord Cameron, Suella Braverman and Kemi Badenoch.

In comparison, just 39 per cent of those polled said they would vote for Mr Sunak over Labour leader Keir Starmer.

Lady MacAlpine, whose brother was an adviser to Margaret Thatcher, has been overt in her dislike of Mr Sunak, telling Sky News on Monday she was “old and angry” and wanted the party to head in a more right wing direction.

Her poll, published in The Telegraph, comes just weeks after a Tory bust-up over other secretive polls trying to discredit Mr Sunak, including the bombshell “Labour landslide” poll that warned of a Tory wipeout unless he was removed as leader.

The research was commissioned by an anonymous group linked to Lord Frost and was widely seen as an attempt to oust the PM. It prompted calls from Tory grandee Lord Hayward for tighter rules on polling ahead of a general election.

Speaking to the Independent, Lord Hayward warned that Lady LacAlpine’s newest polling may well have backfired: “The plotting right may be disappointed by the results, because they might have wanted more people to come out ahead of Rishi Sunak – the only person who’s come out ahead of Sunak is someone who’s not an MP”.

He also highlighted Mr Johnson’s divisiveness as another reason why his return to Cabinet was unlikely, adding: “You don’t only judge a party leader on the basis of what leader you want, but you also need to know how ‘anti’ people are.

“There is no doubt Boris engenders support amongst people – but he also engenders an enormous amount of opposition”.

The result also follow a difficult week for the PM as the Conservatives faced a double by-election drubbing and the country entered a technical recession.

On Friday, Labour snapped up two new seats in Wellingborough and Kingswood, achieving the second largest swing from Tory to Labour at any by-election since the Second World War.

The defeat has triggered calls from those within the party for the prime minister to “change course” and adopt more Conservative values, such as lower taxation, harsher immigration quotas and to rollback net zero targets.

The poll also asked voters about other Conservative figures, including Suella Braverman, the former home secretary, and Penny Mordaunt, the Commons Leader, who both received 23 per cent versus Sir Keir, with Priti Patel polling at 22 per cent and Ms Badenoch 19 per cent.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is facing calls from colleagues within his party to change direction

Some 45 per cent of 2019 Conservatives said that they could be persuaded to vote for the Tories again if Mr Sunak were not leader, while eighty per cent of “one-time Conservatives” agreed that the party would have a higher chance of winning if they had a leader who embraces “traditional Conservative values”.

According to the poll, Labour current has a 22-point lead to the Tories, who are on 20 per cent, 13 per cent for Reform and 10 per cent for the Liberal Democrats.

The latest poll has given Keir Starmer a 22-point over the Conservatives

Whitestone Insight, who ran the poll, said that “replacing Rishi Sunak” could mean “the difference between wipeout, noble defeat, or possibly even somehow clinging on to power.”

Lady McAlpine said that she believed that a Tory victory would be possible should Boris Johnson lead a “new squeaky clean Conservative Party”.

She told the Telegraph: “If we have the brains, they’re not evident and that’s because the personality is not there, the charisma is not there. To be a leader, you have to have enormous charisma to be a good leader.”

Mr Johnson left parliament last year after he was found to have wilfully misled MPs about his role in the partygate scandal.

The former prime minister had been forced to resign over his handling of the scandal and was then forced out following an excoriating parliamentary report into his conduct.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has remained positive in spite of the difficult by-election results, having admitted the results were “particularly challenging” but has insisted “our plan is working” and he can “give everyone the piece of mind that there is a better future for them and their families”.

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